Sunday, February 16, 2014

Burdens and Gifts

(Artwork found here.)

I was reminded of a couple important things today, and I wanted to share them here.

Having faith in the Lord includes laying our burdens at His feet and letting them go.
Since starting counseling several months ago, I have been surprised over how much emotional baggage I have been carrying around for years. I have been laden with doubts, fears, hurt, sorrow, and heartaches that I didn't need to take on this life journey. Are they real emotions? Yes. Did they need to be uncovered and validated? Absolutely. Do I still need to carry them? I do not. They are no longer appropriate to my circumstances in life. I have been blessed with a wonderfully supportive and emotionally safe husband. (Safe may not seem like a romantic concept, but I find it hugely attractive. In fact, I hope I am able to give him the emotional support he gives me, because every time he is there for me I fall deeper in love with him.) I am not in crisis. I am not in emotional or physical danger. If I hang onto the pain, I am inhibiting joy and limiting the healing power of Christ's Atonement. If I cannot turn my burdens over to Him, how can I truly say I have faith in Him? And that means all my burdens. Even the ones I am most afraid of, including the weaknesses that have the power to affect my life today.

Our most precious gift in this life is our ability to choose.
I am not a victim to my circumstances. I am not a slave to my temptations or weaknesses. I can choose the direction I want my spiritual growth to go. I cannot control anyone around me, and I don't always have a say in what happens to me. But those things do not have the power to destroy me. They do not alter my relationship with God, or my personal worthiness. I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." 
~ Ether 12:27

I choose whether I want my weakness to lead me away from Christ or unto Him. As I read this verse tonight, I noticed that we are not promised that being humble and coming unto Christ will help us make perfect choices. Rather, we are promised that if we come unto him, His "grace is sufficient". And, eventually, those "weak things [will] become strong". Notice that the scripture does not say it will happen immediately. It may not happen in a day, a week, a year, or even in a decade. But it will happen.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Years ago when I was working for the Red Cross, I started having heart palpitations from time to time. I talked to my doctor about it, and she asked me to record them on a calendar so we could see if there was a pattern. It quickly became apparent that I was having symptoms on those days that I had the most going on. I would have them coming back from a fire call, or when I had several things on the calendar that I was juggling. Based on that observation, she "officially" diagnosed me with anxiety disorder. We never did anything about it, but it was good to know that I my body would act that way when it was under stress so I tried to take things slower.

Fast forward 12 years... 

All day long I've been having heart palpitations. Even when I haven't been doing anything strenuous. The first one surprised me, but I didn't think anything of it. By the third one, I started wondering what was going on. That's when I remembered my former diagnosis. Anxiety. Stress. Was I feeling it today? I was a little stressed out this morning, but that was it, or so I thought. My body was telling me differently. 

I took a few minutes to sit quietly with my feelings, and I was able to realize what was bothering me all day. In fact, it's been bothering me since counseling yesterday. Because it's extremely personal I won't share it here, but suffice it to say it's "a doozy". 

So what's my point? My point is that our bodies really will try to tell us things if we can but listen. We all have ways that we exhibit stress and anxiety. According to this website, some of these are:
  • A tense, uptight feeling
  • Inability to relax
  • Feeling restless, keyed up, or on edge
  • Muscle tension, aches, or soreness
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Irritability or impatience
  • Physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, nausea or diarrhea, and trouble swallowing.
Recognizing our own stress indicators will help us figure out our problems "in the moment", or close to it. And who wants to carry around stress or anxiety for longer than we must? 

I sure don't.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


A couple of months ago I decided to take an emotional risk that was outside of my comfort zone. I am going to be part of a choral production this spring, and I decided to audition for a solo. I spent a number of weeks learning the songs and singing along with the CD in the car every chance I had. Tryouts were a couple of weeks ago, and although I was struggling with my voice I felt like I got good feedback from the people holding the auditions. I nervously awaited the results.

I didn't get it.

I didn't get a major solo, OR any of the minor solos. I wasn't asked to be the narrator. I got... nothing.

I was surprised by my reaction when the casting list came out. I was devastated. I admit that I cried for a while in private. I even got a little weepy after I left the first rehearsal. In fact, I'm still emotional about it as I type this blog post.

Why has this been so difficult for me?

I think it all comes down to one thing: validation.

The need I have for someone else to validate my worth is much stronger than I ever suspected. One of the reasons I love the General Relief Society Meeting every fall is because without fail there is always one or more speakers telling me that I am special to my Father in Heaven, and when they tell me I can feel it. 

I will never forget how I felt when President Uchtdorf gave his "Forget Me Not" talk in 2011. It was balm to my soul when he said, "Sisters, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love."

In my mind, I understand that my value does not lie in my talents or abilities or what I can give others. My value lies in the simple fact that I exist. I can see the proof every time I hold a newborn baby. They have nothing to offer me. They have nothing apparent to offer, and yet they are so precious. I can feel it. The worth of my soul has not changed in the last 37 1/2 years. It was infinite to begin with, and it has not decreased. Neither has yours. We are all equally precious.

If I can capture this feeling in my heart for a moment, then it doesn't seem to matter so much that I didn't get a solo. My pride isn't as tender, and my feelings aren't as bruised. As a nourish my spirituality, I can feel closer to the Lord and receive His validation. 

And maybe... just maybe...I can take another risk someday.